Day 48 - Reflecting on success, futility & failure
Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
147Trip End Nov 18, 2010
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Within 15 mins we had reached Hadrians Wall which was to be our companion for the morning
The views were always spectacular of the rugged countryside and at one point, Winshields Crag, we walked over the highest point on the Wall, some 345 mtrs high. Always though, our mind raced with the sheer enormity of man's endeavour to create this wall 7 ft wide on a 10 ft base with defensive ditches across over one hundred kilometres of remote unweildy geography. The Wall was conceived by the Emporer Hadrian when he visited Britain in AD 122. It is interesting to reflect that with a Roman Empire stretching 2,500 kms out from here to Iraq in the east and 1,500 kms south to the Sahara in Africa, that it was here he determined the necessity for a stone wall to keep the barbarians (known as Picts at the time but soon to be known as the bloody Scots) out
Al this reflecting caused us to look for comparisons in the adventure we have embarked upon. Once we walked down from Hadrians Wall into Greenhead, at about 1.30 pm for our well earned lunch, we realised we had hit a memorable milestone. Our success was completing, today, 1,000 kilometres of walking from John O'Groats at a daily walking average of 25 kms. But, is this a success in the strictest terms or is it another example of man's futile efforts? Indeed, we understand that our walk has had absolutely no effect on the world and when we are finished nothing will have changed. In fact, we are now entering the most difficult phase of our walk, the one in which Peter Court had been laying the highest odds that failure would envelope us. So, success, futility or failure? And at the end of the day is there any difference and does any of it really matter? Keith says the main difference is now in his buttock and the toothache he's been carrying for the past week
What a delight The Old Forge Tearooms in Greenhead were. We spent far too long (40 mins.) over lunch with hot soups, beautiful grain bread sandwiches, gorgeous cake and can't resist freshly made scones for the afternoon. Over lunch we realised the timing difficulties that we now have courtesy of Keith's commitment to his beloved Demons. The book tells us it could take 6 1/2 hours more from here to Slaggyford, our destination this evening. We think we can do the 17 kms quicker than that. In fact it turns out to be 20 kms which takes us a 'comfortable' 5 hours to complete. This afternoon's walk was typical English long distance walking. We have to find our way across several large open tracts of common land. We cross Wain Rigg, Blenkinsopp Common, and Hartley Burn, pushing our way at times through waist high grasses and trudging in and out of bogs which make all colour on our shoes disappear in a black sludge. At times when weariness seems ready to bring us down, we think of Richard Payne, that brave Iceberger who is today attempting to swim the English Channel. Whatever we are feeling will be nothing compared to what he is coping with. Finally we tumble down onto a disused rail line, the old South Tyne Railway, for the last 2 kms into Slaggyford. As we walk up to our B&B for the night at 7.05 pm, we have done 34 kms which is about 45,000 steps for Debby
Our B&B tonight is a converted old chapel run by Mary and John. John is an artist working in stained glass and the windows in the building are a tremendous testimony to his skill. Rushing ourselves quickly through showers, within half an hour we are seated in what used to be the old Sunday school room, eating a lovely homemade dinner. Mary's son raises rare breeds of free range pigs and we have some Old Spot pork in cider with a tremendous selection of good vegetables followed by just the most tasy pie we have had so far in England made from fresh blackcurrants and a big jug of custard. And we had a started of melon with locally air dried proscuitto. The perfect end to an exhausting, challenging but ultimately very satisfying day.